Agreement with the European Space Agency will offer new opportunities for Lithuanian businesses and science


2021 04 29


Minister of the Economy and Innovation Aušrinė Armonaitė has signed Lithuania’s Associated Membership Agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA).The associated membership of ESA will strengthen the international competitiveness of national science and business and will directly benefit the country’s economy – it is estimated that EUR 1 directly invested by space programme participants generates the value of at least EUR 3.5.The agreement on Lithuania and ESA’s associated membership will have to be ratified by the Seimas before September 27; until then, Lithuania will retain the status of the ESA cooperating state. 

‘Involvement in the development of space technologies improves the international image of any country and also brings direct benefits to the economy. The businesses carrying out projects under ESA programmes create significant added value; Lithuania’s membership in ESA will bring a return of about EUR 8.4 million  for our country every year. Such cooperation promotes innovation, provides a strong stimulus for national businesses of tomorrow and for the development of advanced technologies, innovative industry and high value-added products. All these aspects enhances the competitiveness of national businesses and science at international level,‘  says Minister of the Economy and Innovation  Armonaitė.

The space market is very promising and undergoing rapid commercialisation with increasing private investment and a growing number of new start-ups. When becoming an associated member Lithuania will enjoy the right to establish an ESA business incubation centre to provide expert and financial assistance to space start-ups. Currently, 20 centres of this type operate in 17 ESA member states. These centres have helped to set up more than 300 space start-ups and have developed more than 700 companies.

The global space sector value made EUR 317 billion last year with annual growth rates of 6.7 per cent.

The associated membership will allow Lithuania to participate in various ESA programmes; our national business and science will be able to cooperate with major European technology corporations, like Airbus, Thales Alenia Space, Ariane Group and OHB System, which implement large-scale ESA programmes.

Today’s space infrastructure enables the development of new services in energy, telecommunications, insurance, transport, maritime, land, forest monitoring, aviation and urban development, climate observation and meteorology, defence, security and agriculture. This brings added value to the economy and society.

Lithuania signed a cooperation agreement with ESA in 2010 and joined ESA’s Plan for European Cooperating States (PECS) in 2015. As part of the Plan for European Cooperating State (PECS), Lithuania participated in six ESA tenders with funding offered to 40 projects.

ESA, which was established in 1975, has  22 member states, including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Slovenia and Latvia enjoy an associated membership status, while Lithuania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Malta and Slovakia still have the status of a cooperating state.